A SURVEY OF
THE STATUS QUO OF THE EARLY TECHNOLOGICAL EDUCATION IN CATALONIA
Research in technology education shows us that, de
facto, there is, an important group of technologies that requires separate
analysis, namely, the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This
report on the status of technology in education in Catalonia aims to reflect this distinction.
Therefore, when we talk about
technology, we refer here to all
technologies except ICTs, and we reserve the term ICTs to designate informatics and audiovisuals.
The present paper presents the status quo of
technological education addressed to younger children in Catalonia by
analyzing four points of view:
Consideration of technology in nursery and primary school
Consideration of technology in initial and permanent
The situation of research
in terms of early technological education.
Some initiatives for
improving ICTs education.
metodologies for science and technology education.
Technology in the nursery and
primary school curriculums
Organic Law 1/1990 (LOGSE) and later regulations,
especially those based on Decree
75/1992, which ordered the curriculum
and guidelines of primary and secondary education in Catalonia, established
the current educational system in Catalonia.
that our project deals with include
the following curricular areas:
Nursery level (ages 3 to 6)
Discovering the social and
Primary level (ages 6 to 12)
Catalan, Spanish (and
Aranese in Val dAran) languages and literatures
Knowledge of social and
Knowledge of the natural
Visual and plastic arts
According to this scheme, preschool and primary school curriculums
do not include the area of technology.
Technology is only a curricular area in compulsory secondary education (12-16 years old).
Although technology is not an educational area, however, the guidelines
for curricular design have some
content related to technology in two aspects: a) the consideration of some
contents with an approach STS (Science, Technology and Society) and b) the
consideration of some procedural content.
The guidelines for curricular design in Catalonia (1994)
distinguish 3 kinds of curricular content: concepts, procedures
and attitudes. The main
technological content we find is in the procedural contents of
Knowledge of the natural environment. This is so because often technological and experimental activities have the same procedures.
We can point out these aims and contents related to
technology in the Knowledge
of natural environment area of the curricular design guidelines:
To have a positive view of
scientific and technological contributions to society
Use of tools, instruments
Assembly and disassembly of
Use of skills and
1.10. Identification of variables
1.11. Inference and prediction
1.12. Hypothesis formulation
1.13. Use of databases to organize the data
gathered, to facilitate the selection of
information and its later
Use of the concepts in
Generalization of concepts
Synthesis of information
Relations between human
beings, technology and society.
Contributions of machines to human activity
Energy resources for industry
The information technologies
Respect for safety,
conservation of materials and hygiene regulations.
3. Interest in scientific processes.
4. Accuracy in processing
and communicating information by using the appropriate tools.
6. Respect for science.
Since Decree 75/1992 there
have been other decrees that have changed some particular aspects of
the curriculum, but the status of technology
has not changed very much at these
levels. The last year has seen the culmination of an analysis process of the
Catalan educational system and we comment on the results for
technological education in the next point.
2000-2002 National Conference on
Education: Debate about the Educational System of Catalonia.
The National Conference on Education is an initiative of the Generalitat, (the
Autonomous Government of Catalonia), designed to undertake an exhaustive diagnosis
of the educational system, once the
educational reform derived from the general organic law of the educational
system (LOGSE) goes into effect. The Conference activity began in early 2000
and culminated with the public presentation, on 15 June 2002, of the
document: Debate on the Catalan Education System: Conclusions and Proposals.
The National Conference
on Education therefore constitutes a good sample of the diagnosis to be
carried out in regard to the reality
of the educational system when measures
need to be taken to improve
the quality of education.
The conference was
organized into 7 sections:
Section I: Decentralization and autonomy of the centers
Section II: Importance and social function of teachers
Section III: Attention to diversity
Section IV: Work training and insertion
Section V: Evaluation of learning procedures and orientation
Section VI: Artistic programs
Section VII: Basic Skills
The aim of section VII was
to elaborate a distribution proposal of basic skills between primary and
secondary education. The basic skills are the conceptual, procedural, and
attitudinal basic knowledge modules that children need to know at the end of
each level. They were established for
the first time in the year 2000 for these five areas: linguistic, mathematics,
technical-scientific, social and jobs.
In the definitions of
basic areas of competence in the Technical-scientific area, we read that the aim of these competences is:
to develop the basis of scientific
thinking that the children need in order to understand the world of ordinary
objects and phenomena.... and to face the most related common problems
This area has five
Knowledge of common objects
The three first
dimensions must provide the children with
a scientific literacy which,
according to the PISA report
"is the capacity to use scientific knowledge, to identify questions and
to draw evidence-based conclusions in order to understand and help make
decisions about the natural world and the changes made to it through human
The other two
dimensions, Consumption and Health have an aspect which is more
closer to the application of resources that the scientific thinking provides.
These last two dimensions aim
respectively to promote a responsible consumption and to educate in
From the conclusions of
the debate, we extract the following three general basic competences in
To know why
some habitual chemical products may be dangerous in the home.
To explain by scientific approaches some of the most
important changes that take place in
To know the
basic elements of a machine for collecting energy, transforming it, and
producing useful work.
These general competences
have the following more concrete
basic competences at the level of primary education:
To know about the utility of typical chemical
products found in the home and what
possible consumer risks may
derive from their use (burns,
To identify on the labels the
symbols for dangers involved in the use of some products.
To use the products according
to the established instructions for
To know some simple natural
phenomena, relating important causes and effects.
To explain some of the changes
that are easily observable, caused by the living organisms related to the
nature and the dynamics of the Earth.
To identify the energy resources
that are most frequently used and to value the importance of not wasting
To design and to elaborate a simple
We also think that it is possible to find contents of technological
education in these basic competences of the Knowledge of usual objects dimension:
To know and to evaluate the factors
of risk derived from the use of machines and appliances and the reasons for
information and apply basic knowledge of technology to solve simple problems.
These general competences
have the following more concrete
basic competences at the level of primary education:
To know the risks to users
of different devices, in relation to
their characteristics (conductivity, temperature, etc.).
To know what to do in the event
of the most common accidents in the home (gas leaks, fires, etc.).
To use different appliances,
according to the instructions for use
To respect the use and
conservation instructions of objects and materials.
To observe and classify
To observe and classify simple
To know how to detect some
failures in the operation of most common devices.
To apply simple processes (e.g., direct observation, comparison,
classification, combining two variables
in order to answer a question.
To know how to find information of
a certain source of data.
In our opinion, this document will not involve
important changes related to the status of technology in nursery and primary
education. At these educational
levels technology is considered only
in relation to social and natural
sciences (STS approach).
You can find more information in http://www.gencat.es/cne/debat.pdf
and in http://www.gencat.es/cne/p10.html
1.2. ICT items in the curriculum
In the curriculum
guidelines (1994), the ICTs did not appear as a curricular area, but were considered a transversal axis
(like health or road security, for example). Today, the ICTs have become essential
instruments for education and their knowledge is considered a basic
competence or skill, (perhaps comparable with reading, writing and
The basic skills in
ICTs were defined in 2000 and as a
result of the National Conference on Education have recently been arranged in sequence: These next items are
the ones corresponding to children
between the ages of 3 to 12:
Historical and social
3 to 6 years
Progressively the student must develop the
understand the ethical, cultural, and social impacts related to ICTs.
value the personal and social benefits of ICTs.
aware of the implications of using ICTs in different situations, for
example in the classroom and at home.
appreciate the necessity of responsible uses of ICTs and the necessity of
protecting information from a possible misuse, at individual as well as
6 to 8 years
8 to 10 years
10 to 12 years
To use the mouse to point out and click
To turn the computer on /
To use the keyboard / sensitive chart
To print by clicking on the
To use the basic components of the graphic environment
of the computer
open and close an application, to create a new document.
To save and retrieve a document, with the help of the teacher
To use menus and
advanced controls (such as the contextual menus)
the computer with security and responsibility
identify the differences among the use of the hard disk and floppy disk
save and retrieve a document,
without the help of the teacher
To personalize aspects of the system
identify different types of computers
understand the need to make backup copies
and be able to make them.
identify the advantages of working in a local net and of using shared files
Instruments of work intellectual
To be aware of the possibility of obtaining
information through electronic means. To group, classify, order, and serialize different types of objects
make an image using simple drawing
explain the work processes with the
computer and to indicate the tools used.
information in support of
access web pages previously
group, classify, order and serialize different types of objects
create, access and edit
one or more sentences with a simple word processor
simple graphic software
To access to different CD-ROMs without the teachers
2. To use an Internet navigator without the help of
3. To print in a
simple databases on the computer
make database searches
create and edit a document, for
example: a report, a press article or a letter, using more complex tools of
create a presentation simple multimedia, for example: a presentation or a
look for information in different ways
2. To use a searcher.
create a list of Favorites.
make text captures and graphics with the option Copy and Paste.
create a simple database
enter data in defaulted databases
identify the structure of a database
create and edit a document, for
example: a postcard, a calendar or a school magazine, using a word
processor and graphics
present/create a session of slides, a presentation or a more sophisticated web page, with the
help of the teacher.
To carry out simple comparisons between the
telephone and the mail
simple communication activities between two people, for example:
sending a message
negotiate ones own electronic communications, for example: to negotiate an
To be aware of
different styles and communication forms
carry out simple activities in a group, for example: communications or to
collaborate through electronic mail
learn how to use the option of attaching files in the electronic mail.
able to use the "emoticons" in an appropriate way
Control and modelling
To follow instructions
To use simple games of simulation or adventure
To use more complex simulations or adventure games
2. To control an element
that appears on screen through
basic orders, for example: a turtle
plan a sequence of orders to be executed by a device
be aware that the computer can pick up information on the environment
through sensors, for example: temperature, light and sound
To be aware that the computer can be used to
simulate or model real situations and to understand why
computers are used for these tasks, for example: in situations of
danger or environmental risk
and ICTs in nursery and primary school teacher training
The standing of technology in teacher
training is not unlike that of the
curriculum: if we fail to consider
ICTs, our teacher training in
technology will be applied only to
secondary teachers in the area
Technology and ICTs in initial teacher
The preschool and
primary initial teacher
s training is organized into 5
university degree programs:
Infantil, general teacher for children aged 3 to 6.
general teacher for children between the ages of 6 and 12.
Mestre de Llengües
Estrangeres, teacher specialized in
English or French language for children between the ages of 6 and 12.
teacher specialized in children aged 3 to 6:
teacher specialized in children aged 3 to 6:
teacher specialized in children with
In all these diploma
courses, technology education is also
focused on ICTs. These curriculums
have only one compulsory subject of
4.5 credits: New technologies applied to education. This subject has explicit informatics and
Nevertheless we can
find some contents of technology in various courses in experimental sciences and
courses in some optional subjects,
e.g., in the teacher training
Faculty of the Universitat de Barcelona (UB), the optional subjects Informatics and Technology,
Resources for teaching science or Informatics resources for teaching
mathematics have technological contents.
You can find more
information in http://www.xtec.es/escola/tec_inf/tic/index.htm
2.2. Technology and ICTs in permanent teacher training
The current offer in nursery and primary in
service teacher training related to technology is also focused on ICTs.
The Administration offers:
Training courses (first and
second level) in ICTs in public centers of preschool primary and secondary
first-level courses are introductory courses for teachers that have experience
with ICTs. The main aim of the
first-level courses is that teachers know the hardware and software in their
center and have the basic competences in ICTs for their habitual use.
second-level courses offer the teachers more in-depth knowledge and
competence in ICTs for subsequent
Specific support to
teachers at preschool and primary public centers for the integration of
informatics into the variety of curricular knowledge areas and the general
educational task of the centers improvement. Its supposed that the teachers
of these courses know the basic aspects of informatics and offimatics.
Training courses in
audiovisual media in public centers of preschool and primary education. The
main aim of these courses is that teachers know the audiovisual media in
their center and have the basic competence for their normal use.
in technological education
If we fail to take the ICTs in educational research into
consideration, the outlook on research in technological education in Catalonia is very poor. We
found only one project at the
doctoral degree level on the
differences between girls and boys interest in and concept of technology in
secondary schools (1993). We present
this in detail in the next point because we think it is of interest to our project.
We also found references to two
PhD dissertations done in the nineteen-eighties at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. These documents are
on pre-technological vocabulary in
primary schools ( Contreras, E. 1981) and technological operators used
by children in their technological education (Gonzalo, R. 1989). However, we do not feel that this is a line of research that is in keeping
with todays continuity. These are probably
only sporadic works, because we have not found more recent works on
Also, at present, a PhD
student in our department is working
on research in regard to the project method as a resource for teaching technology in secondary schools.
However, that at present, to our knowledge,
no line of research exists on
This is logical for several
The didactics of technology as a professional area does not currently
exist in the university. It exists only at the level of secondary school
teachers. However, research per se is
a responsability of universities.
The new technologies are dealt
with as a subject in pedagogy
and these focus their technological research
on informatics or audiovisuals in education.
The didactics of science departments in the university do not view
technology education as an important
line of research, their point of view being, more or less, that technology is
The administration and the general educational model promote only ICTs.
3.1. TECHNOLOGICAL EDUCATION, PhD dissertation of
Montserrat Muñoz Delgado (1992)
The aims of this research are:
To collect information on
1) the attitude towards technology and 2) the concept of technology held by
12 16 year-old Catalan students.
To determine whether there
are any differences between boys and girls in regard to these two
The author uses a questionnaire prepared at the University of Technology of
Students attitudes towards is explored by means of 60
questions regarding 6 fundamental
based on sex/gender
- Consequences of technology
- Difficulty of technology
- Technology in the curriculum
- Technology and future jobs
of technology is investigated through three conceptual points that are
considered to be basic characteristics of the concept of technology:
Technology is a human
- Technology is strongly related to
- Technology is related to design and technical
- Technology is founded on three basic concepts:
Matter, Energy, and Information
Summary of results
The author found the following research results:
Attitude of the students towards technology
The results of the questionnaire demonstrate
that, as a whole, there is no
significant difference in
attitude between girls and boys, either favorable or
unfavorable, towards technology. But
there are important differences in some specific attitudinal characteristics.
Boys are more interested than girls in fields that are related to technology (they are more likely to read reviews
of technology, to know what is new in
technology, to visit factories or repair
Differences for reason of
Both boys and girls think that girls are
competent to study technological subjects or to have a technological job, but girls think this in a greater
proportion. The boys consider themselves
better at technological tasks
Consequences of technology
Boys and girls, but more boys that girls,
think that in the future technology will have important positive or negative
Difficulty of technology
There are no significant differences between
boys and girls in this aspect. The students,
in a little bigger proportion
girls than boys, consider that all people are able
to practice or study technology. The girls think that if they study
technology in a smaller proportion to
boys, it is not because of a lack
of ability. For the author, this
means that we have to search for reasons in traditional and socio-cultural
Technology and curriculum
In this variable there are significant
differences between boys and girls. Both consider that technology is
important in the schools curriculum, but the boys think technology must be
compulsory for all students, and
girls think exactly the opposite.
Technology and future job
The boys think that a technological job is not boring and girls often think the
Both (more boys than girls) think technology
is important and interesting for their future professions or jobs.
concept of technology
In general, the results of the questionnaire
demonstrate that between boys and girls there are significant differences in
the concept of technology. But they have a confusing concept of technology
because they often do not recognize some of the basic characteristics of the
concept of technology.
The technology like human activity
There are no important differences between
boys and girls in terms of
understanding technology as a
consequence of human inventiveness and activity. Both girls and boys have a
tendency to consider technology something linked to machines. They consider
also that technology is not an ancient human capability.
The relation between technology and sciences
Boys more than girls see some relation between
technology and natural sciences, but both (more girls than boys) consider
that there is no relationship between
technology and chemistry or biology.
The differences between boys and girls are
very important in this point.
The relationship of technology to design and technical abilities.
The results in this point demonstrate that
there isnt any difference between boys and girls. This relationship seems
confusing for both, boys and girls.
The relationship of technology with matter,
energy and information.
In this characteristic there are no significant differences between boys and
girls. They see the implications between technology and energy, and less
between matter and technology. Moreover,
it seems that they do not consider that technology is related to
information, probably because information is a concept not well
understood by them.
Summary of conclusions
In summary, the author considers that in
Catalonia the differences between boys and girls are similar to those of other countries and that these
differences are a direct consequence of the social models.
The author explains the great level of
confusion in the concept of technology because this subject did not exist in
the curriculum when this research was
being carried out.
In order to reach the attitudinal equality in
sexes, the author agrees with Marc de Vries (1987) and Falco de Klerk Wolters
(1989), who hold that classes of
should be available for girls and
should start in earlier courses.
Technological education obviously has to involve a correct concept of technology.
This means that the relation technology/society and technology/human being
should receive special consideration
in the technological curriculum.
The author points up also the influence of
teachers attitudes on the studentsattitudes.
The author assumes the concept of technology
established by De Vries and based on these essential characteristics:
a) Technology is a human activity (boys and
b) Technology is founded on three basic concepts:
Matter, Energy and Information
c) There is a mutual relationship between science
and technical abilities are essentials in technology
e) There is a reciprocal influence between
technology and society
According to this concept and the guidelines
of the Departament dEnsenyament de la Generalitat de Catalunya, the author
suggests that proposals in technological education have to take account of:
Girls special motivation.
Developing procedural, conceptual, attitudinal contents and
values that focus on technology as a
human activity, which remains in a
constant relation in regard to the
sciences and which has three basic
conceptual supports: matter, energy and information.
The concrete nature of
technological activity, especially of their most common processes like
technical drawing, analysis, design, projecting, and construction of
initiatives to improve
In this section we want to
consider some initiatives of the Generalitat and other institutions that can
produce changes in the situation of
technological or ICT education.
In the last 15 years ICTs have received special promotion from the
4.1. Initiatives by the Generalitat for improving ICT education
In the last 15 years the ICTs have
received special promotion from the
Catalan administration. We want here
to point up two programs, the PIE
program, which has been the motor
for implementing informatics
technology in schools, and the Pla
Estratègic, Catalunya en Xarxa [Strategic plan: Catalonia in network],
which drew the lines of todays
programs and for future interventions
to promote ICTs.
In 1986 the Departament d'Ensenyament de la
Generalitat de Catalunya (Ministry of Education of the Autonomous
Government), created the "Programa d'Informàtica Educativa" (PIE)
with the aim of promoting the use of
New Information Technologies in Primary and Secondary Education in Catalonia.
The achievement of this global objective may
be carried out through the
coordinated introduction of the
following activities: Distribution of equipment, Teacher Training, Educational
Activities and Experiences, Support technologies.
PIE has supported the realization of
activities and experiences in different areas, for example:
EXAO (Computer Assisted Experimentation)
Music (Use of informatics and musical systems)
Use of overlay keyboard in education
Local area networks
Work in different areas of vocational
Drafting and Technical Design
bring a higher degree of quality to the support of its work, PIE has
complemented its work with the development of two support technologies: The
Educational Telecommunications Network of Catalonia (XTEC) and the
development of the SINERA Data Base.
XTEC was created in 1988, and since 1995 has been connected to the Internet,
offering the schools the opportunity of using the World Wide Web, Electronic
Mail for the realization of educational team projects. XTEC gives service to
all the educational centers, which have been equipped, by PIE, to allow the realization of collaborative work and teamwork,
both at a Catalan, Spanish and International level.
The PIE has also developed the documental database of educational
resources SINERA, which contains more than 45.000 references and has been
edited in a multimedia CD-ROM format and distributed to the schools in three
editions (1993, 1995, and 1996). In 1997, the Sinera Database was implemented
in the PIE Web for online access in the framework of the TeleRegions Project:
Catalonia in network
Emphasizing the administrations interest in
ICTs, the Autonomous Government approved, in August 1998, the master lines
for promoting the total integration of Catalonia into the information
society. In the master line Educational System we can read:
Access to the Internet must be provided to
all educational centers and services so that students and teachers may be
able to profit from the services and opportunities in learning and teaching
that this medium puts within their reach. Our didactic methods must combine
the Catalan pedagogical legacy with the interaction and personalization
capabilities that information technology, telecommunications and audiovisuals
offer. As a result, students will learn new techniques to access the information and its treatment.
Particularly, the Government will pay special attention to encouraging further education for the teaching staff
with regard to these technologies. It will also urge students to learn to
design and create contents in digital form, because this is thought to be a
useful item for training and a fundamental factor for the presence of the WWW
Government will favour the intensive use of the new information technology in
order to encourage and renew professional training, because it is considered
a fundamental issue in the creation and maintenance of high-quality levels of
occupation. The educational system will bear in mind the appointment of
professionals specialized in these technologies.
Then, in 1999, the Generalitat created the global project Pla
Estratègic, Catalunya en Xarxa, (1999-2003) with the same aim. This
project has 7 fields of action, and
one of them is Education and Training. The education and training
area has these 6 aims:
Implantation and adaptation
of the curriculums to the necessities of the IS, (among others, this includes
the objective of guaranteeing the incorporation of the ICTs into the school
Initial and in-service teacher training in ICTs, (to
promote and facilitate teachers use
ofthe ICTs in
their daily activities).
A program for adult
education and continuous training in ICTs.
Creation and exchange of
educational materials (to facilitate the birth of an educational industry in multimedia
and audiovisual that motivates and
Promotion of the
organizational and structural changes in educational centers and development
of the virtual community of these centers. (This seeks the incorporation of
the ICTs into the educational project of the centers)
Endowment plan of
Infrastructures in order to attain,
in the next four years, a ratio of 10
students per computer.
You can find more information in http://dursi.gencat.net/ca/de/pla_estrategic.htm
Other Initiatives for improvement
of ICT education
The Grim Project
This is a research and development project that
started in 1994 with the aim of introducing
information and communication technology in an educational framework.
The original idea was to introduce computers with strong multimedia devices
in nurseries and to assess the
results from several points of view.
More information is available at
, but we would like to point out that
most GRIMM teachers make a positive
evaluation of the influence of the project on the students. These are some
opinions of the teachers:
a more autonomous learning process
· Activities let the students increase
control and responsibility levels in decision-making processes
· Students acquire abilities regarding the
psycomotricity, the spatial conception with more than one dimension
· Students also acquire a good level of
understanding in iconographic and visual language
computer is always quite
, patient, it's never angry with the
user and never shouts. Children can make mistakes without being afraid, and
check and correct the action. Trial
and error methodology increases the opinion of oneself
· Normally, graphic creative tasks that children
can do themselves have good results. Consequently, this increases
self-confidence in children, as well as changing the opinion they have about themselves.
· Generally, children works in pairs with
the computer, so, they collaborate and help each other, and they discover
that a given task is more easily done if they are a group of two or three.
Values like living together, cooperation, helping each other and taking
common decisions are necessary attitudes for working with the computer.
· Children learn easily and they are always
interested in their context. They are very sensitive to the stimuli, and they
are always ready to research, listen, look
and so on. As a result, the more stimuli they receive, the more they
· The computer becomes normal for them in
a short time and they are never
scared of it.
· With the
computer, children carry out
different learning processes, non-linear activities that let them jump from one idea to another, change
activity, try again, think differently, create, communicate and so on. These
activities are really important in the globalization of learning processes.
5. Some didactical
considerations about science and technology education
The preceding paragraphs indicate that curriculums
for Nursery and Primary Education contain no explicit reference to
Technological Education. In addition, failure to consider ICTs would prolong
the deficiencies in technological education, since the present administration
has no alternative plans for improvement.
Nevertheless, from the preceding paragraphs we can
take out two positive aspects.
Technological education is
to a certain extent included in Science Education
Education (12-16 years) contemplates technological education, which is being dealt
with in a satisfactory manner. This
should be borne in mind in the design of programmes for early education.
Our main purpose here is to emphasize the
similarities between scientific and technological education in early
schooling rather than to discuss whether an Area of Technological education
is necessary at early educational levels, or whether there should be a unique
area of scientific-technological education at these levels. (We could
probably find arguments for either option and indeed for different
methodologies in Technological education area
Here we present the didactical methodologies that are
used in the teaching of Technology in secondary education, which we feel
could be considered the basis of criteria for the planning of Technological
education activities at kindergarden and primary educational levels. We base
our presentation on a document presented by A. Soler (1993) at the Seminary
of Doctoral Studies in the Programme of Didàctica de les Ciències Experimentals
i de la Matemàtica of the University of Barcelona.
In the teaching of Technology in Secondary education some
didactical methodologies are derived from the work methods of technological
activity itself. These methodologies are presented and commented in Baigorri
et al. (1997), Aguado, F. and Lama, J.R. (1998) and they are also considered
in some of the general aims and conceptual contents of the technological area
at secondary education (Full de Disposicions i Actes Administratius de la
Generalitat, DOGC núm. 428 de 13 de maig de 1992)
Three methods are used by the technologist in working
The Method of Technological Projects (or of
The Analysis of Objects
The Method of Technological Projects
This is probably the most important method,
but this does not imply that it is the most appropriate method for teaching
any content of Technology.
The Method of
Projects is based on the perception that there is a situation that can be
technologically improved or that a technological problem needs to be solved.
The difference between Technology and other subjects is that in those
subjects the problems to be solved are completely delimited, while the first
step in solving a technological problem or in the building of an object is to
delimit and to define this problem or object.
There are several ways to present the
Method of Projects: some of them are more developed than others, but for our
purposes we will introduce one of the most simple. The steps of the method
are the following:
1) Analysis of the situation and problem
definition. In this
step the problem is defined in such a way as to identify what is to be solved
without the definition being so narrow as to prejudice the possibility of
creativity and innovation.
2) Research. This is the step of data collection. In this step,
the other methods the Case Studies, the Analysis of Objects are often
3) Discussion of possible solutions.
After the research, possible solutions are suggested and they are criticized
one by one, considering all the factors that could influence their
4) Planning. Once the
solution has been chosen as the best, every difficulty of production is
detailed and solved. The procedure of production is planned, the materials
5) Execution. It
consists of the implementation of the procedure of production by the
production of a prototype.
6) Evaluation. Once the
prototype is finished, the definition of the
problem is reviewed again
and the results are evaluated. The budget is also planned a this stage.
To these 6 classical steps we can add another:
of new situations. We add this step to emphasize that every
process is in fact a source of new technological situations that can be
improved, and with which we could begin the method again.
Some pedagogical considerations
The Method of Projects means that:
The emphasis is put, in the
first place, on the pupil considered as responsible of his own learning. This
implies that the pupil has to bring into play a large number of skills
related with the project proposed:
He/she makes effort to
create or manufacture an object
He/she has to learn to use
an object or to put a notion into practice
He/she has to perform tasks
of problem solving or tasks of solving specific intellectual difficulties
He/she makes an effort to
improve his mastery of some specific techniques
The teacher is seen here as
the guiding of the personal possibilities of students, and at the same time
he/she is the encourager and the adviser in the project performance.
The practice of this methodology of projects allows
the student to shape an image of what he is going to do, which instills in
him a need to learn. Then, the project to perform will be a key element of
motivation to the student that will open a way for active participation.
The research that a project needs, the actions that
it entails and the discovery to which it is oriented make the students
acquire the habit of searching for answers and lead them to apply all their
intellectual skills to the activity.
method is well known in other contexts: for example, it is used in
Qualitative Research. Basically it is used to analyse specific episodes of
technological innovation and the dynamics of change, by considering all the
It is also used in the second stage of the Method
of Technological Projects in order to analyse situations similar to those we
aim to solve and thus obtain criteria for the choice of the best solution.
Bachs, X. (in Baigorri 1997), case studies are developed according to the
1) Detection of the social agents interested in
an specific aspect of technological innovation
2) Determination of interests and expectations
that each social agent hopes to obtain from the technological innovation
3) Study of these interests and expectations, by analyzing
points in common, different meanings,
4) Unification of meanings, in order to establish
aims and the design of the technological innovation inquired.
Bachs, X. (in Baigorri 1997) also comments the
following methodological characteristics of Case studies:
§ They begin without any pre-established border
between the technical and the social contexts. Any border of this kind would
be a consequence of actions and strategies of the actors.
§ They try to get rid of all prejudices about
the character of activity on the part of technical actors and they consider
important all those elements that the actors consider important.
§ The global analysis is interdisciplinary: a
network analysis of historical, sociological, technical, economic and
scientific aspects, where none is dominant over the others.
Analysis of Objects
The analysis of objects consists of a
systematic search of all those aspects and elements that determine an object
or technical system. This analysis even includes aspects like the context of
the object considered and the necessities that it covers.
In contrast to the Method of Projects, here we
start from the final solution (the object or technical system) and we search
for all the factors that influenced the determination of this concrete
solution to the problematic initial situation. So, it is a process that goes
from the concrete to the abstract and from the specific to the general.
Analyzing several aspects of objects or
technical systems, such as the form, ergonomics, the functionality, the
, the analysis of objects can be useful as a complete methodology
or as a method associated to the Method of Projects.
Didactically, it has the advantage
that when we analyse the object from all the possible points of view, we are
changing the activity into an interdisciplinary axis. It also helps the students to notice a lot
of variables that intervene in the design and construction of an object, thus
avoiding simplistic views of the environment.
On the one hand the Method of Projects as
educational methodology has its basis in the active pedagogy (Dewey 1900), on
the other hand in the Activity Theory.
Activity theory has its roots in: 1) the classical
German philosophy of Kant and Hegel, which emphasized both the historical
development of ideas as well as the active and constructive role of humans;
2) the philosophy of Marx and Engels and specially their dialectic
materialist view of activity; 3) the Soviet cultural-historical psychology of
Vygotsky, Leontiev, and Luria and Galperin (Kutti, 1996) (Talizina 1988)
Activity theory provides an alternative perspective
to mentalistic and idealistic views of human knowledge that claim that
learning must precede activity. Activity theory posits that conscious
learning emerges from activity (performance), not as a precursor to it. So
activity theory provides us with alternative way of viewing human thinking
From the didactical point of view, we would
highlight the following characteristics of learning based on the Activity
The leading role of the
pupil in the process of knowledge acquisition.
The importance of the
motive of the activity.
The importance of the
personal and social experience.
The progression in the
acquisition of knowledge: from material actions to mental operations, from
the objects and facts to concepts and theories.
The importance of the
language and of the social interaction.
The importance of doing
adequate proposals to the ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development).
educational experiences based in the Method of Projects
pedagogy has promoted several educational experiences to nursery and primary
education level in Catalonia that are focused in the method of project:
Heras, G., Pujol, M. & Roca, N. (1986 ). Los
proyectos como investigación.
The authors base their work by projects in the
re-arrangement of space, organized in four phases,
spontaneity, first organization of the spontaneous
actions, arrangement of spontaneity and construction of code. In the paper
they explain the methodological orientation and the processes they follow in
several buildings: the village, the train, ...
exposition proposes, then, that the children acquired certain principles and
schemes that permit them to re-elaborate the data of own experience, in order
to front the always new situations "
Majoral, S. (2001 ). Dissenyem el nostre pati.
example of authentic work by project, an exercise of participation of
children, teachers and families is the process of design of an important
space: the playground of the school. A project that became real from the
proposals, the dialogue and the reflection of little boys and girls of four
years old in the CEIPM Parc del Guinardó of Barcelona.
because we would have to work with maps, we begin a work of recognition and
representation of objects from several points of view. "
Pujol, M. & Roca, N. (1991). Treballar per projectes a parvulari.
The authors explain the large processes of research
and the acquisition of knowledge about several materials that brings finally
to an original transformation of the space of classroom. The building a
ceiling over which were possible to walk, the achievement of narrow and dark
spaces, some roughed grounds, a wall-organ full of tubes, some transparent
" We have to calculate how many tubes are
necessary to cover all the wall
they are useful calculations because, beside
all the intellectual processes of reasoning and inventiveness that meant in
the children, we obtained the wall"
"The work by projects is a way of school
working based principally on communication, understood as the tool through
which the thinking of students is developed.
considerations for a early science education
From a historic perspective, we believe that
today the level of early
scientific education in our country is not good. The PISA 2000 report demonstrates this when it
places the scientific literacy level of Spain between the 16 and 22 ranking
of a group of 32 countries.
take the year 1990 (year of publication of the LOGSE) as a reference we can
see that technological education has improved and that has a positive trend
of progression in the secondary level of education. However, we cannot say
the same about the sciences in early education. Our feeling is that at the
beginning of the nineties the situation was more positive; or at least there
was more enthusiasm.
In 1990 the Science Museum of Barcelona
organized the first Didactic of Science Seminary with the specific name El
clik científic de 3 a 7 anys (The scientific clik from 3 to 7 years
old). This seminary showed that there
were many professionals, from nursery to university, interested in early
Since then, the didactical
reflections of this seminary have inspired many educational experiments with
children in nurseries and primary schools. We believe that these didactical
considerations may also be a good reference for elaborating the didactical
concept of early technical education.
papers of this seminary were published by the Fundació Caixa de Pensions
(1990) and, considering the aim of our project we would emphasize the following
reflections from them:
In addition to the
expressive education, the nursery has to propitiate cognitive education
because between the ages of 3 6 children experience the explosion of
language and the starting of the main cognitive strategies. So it is
necessary to propose activities of scientific and technical education.
The most important
didactical procedure for an early scientific and technical education is to
practice research, understood as a way to act that allow the construction
of a closer relation between what the learner is doing and what the learner
is thinking. The process of the construction of knowledge can be understood
as a continuous adjustment between experience, thinking and language.
Interpersonal relations are
essential for scientific literacy.
It is necessary to take account of the knowledge and competence
that 3-year-old children have acquired, because these are the bases on which
scientific literacy will be built.
The teacher should act as a
mediator (of stimuli, direction, support) in the acquisition of scientific
The proposed activities
should be related with the childrens life outside the classroom.
In our opinion there are many points of
coincidence between this way of understanding scientific education and the
didactical methodologies of technological education that we introduced above.
To recognize this points of coincidence we
propose only to read this experience of scientific education carried out in a
nursery of Modena by N. Balestri and presented by M. Arcà and P. Mazzoli in El
clik científic de 3 a 7 anys.
TO MAKE, TO SPEAK, TO UNDERSTAND.
Scientific education at pre-school
With five-year-old children we
have often told the story of the three bears, whose main characters are the
big bear, the medium bear and the small bear. Then we wanted to build seats
for the bears, starting with that of the biggest bear .
We were talking about choosing the
most appropriate material: there were
those who wanted to make seats out of paper and Bristol board, others
preferred clay, and others iron. Finally, we decided to try all the proposed
materials, but starting with paper.
So, we all sat down around a big
table, with some big sheets of paper and coloured Bristol boards. Each child,
choosing a classroom seat as a model, had
first to make a plan, showing how big their seat would be so that the
big bear could sit on it. Therefore, the child would draw on the paper the
different parts, clip them together, and build a seat that could be used.
This process obliged them to
decompose the seat mentally into its essential parts and to design (in
proportion) the parts that would later be glued together.
We tried to collaborate
individually with the children to overcome the various difficulties. We
attempted, before anything else, to identify perceptibly the different parts
of a seat (and their functions), and to give them a name: the legs, the seat,
that which supports the arms and that which supports the back. In this
detailed exploration, a well-known, commonly used object was presented with
unexpected complexity; as if they were seeing a seat for the first time, the
children tried to notice the form and the structure, establishing
relationships of different types between the elements that compose it. It was
a question of looking, of making comparisons between the parts, of realizing
that the back has to be at least as wide as the seat and as high as the arms;
of noticing that certain chairs have the soft seat and others have a hard one.
We cannot describe all the moments
of the work in detail: we will only point up the most important points.
By words of common language, the
conventional aim, -to build a seat for the big bear-, governs and directs the
observation'' of the real object; giving a name to the parts of the seat
guides the children toward their functional analysis and, mainly, makes
cognitively perceptible some data of
the experience to which, until then, the children had never paid
By looking and speaking, but with an objective in mind, a banal
object ( like a seat) stands out from
the background of the objects in daily use and it can be seen to have a
complex structure. The children realize that the different parts have to
correspond to certain proportions, to volumetric and spatial relationships
that they cannot name, but in the course of the work these will become
perceptibly and more and more evident cognitively.
In this, as in other situations,
therefore, one can meditate on the complexity of the process of construction
of knowledge, in which several competences interplay until the point that it
is not possible to analyze one independently of the other. To know how to
make something, to know how to see, to know how to speak are mutually enriching
) The children worked building
the seats: they sometimes spoke, alone or among themselves, of what they were
doing. The Bristol board, cut in the shape of a seat or back, was glued.
Pieces of adhesive tape were placed at the most critical points, as if they
had a magic power of holding,
which nevertheless does not work
well. The problem, then, was to get the seats stand up. Four Bristol board
strips, which were not of same length, were not strong enough to support the
weight of the seat; then some children bent the strips to make cylinders,
which they quickly glued to the four angles under the seat. And as they saw
that they were sometimes not strong enough to keep the seat standing up, the
number of cylinders under the seat was increased to five or six, arranged
differently in the centre or at the sides. We found it was very important to
listen to the explanations that the children gave to the various solutions,
but also to help them to understand the nature and the structure of the
things among which they have to move and to act.
At the moment of testing the seats it was evident that, in spite
of the good intentions and the more or less careful work involved, the
Bristol board seats did not support the weight of the bear. They looked for
the causes, either in the way they had cut and glued the pieces, or in the
nature of the Bristol board, which is too thin, bends easily, does not resist
and cannot be glued. The Bristol board behaves like Bristol board and it cannot
do otherwise: the "limits " imposed by the material (in a more
general way, by the structures of the underlying reality) are always deeply
involved in the success or the failure of their attempts. To achieve the
present aims, it is important to identify how the world is made",
learning gradually to know the rules that describe it. (
) The childrens manipulation of
objects allows them to learn both the intrinsic rules of the real world and the various forms they can move around
it ; sometimes, particular conditions or moments are also chosen to optimize
the form of the object. As the
Bristol board did not support the weight of the bear, we had no choice
but to modify it by using a double sheet, or by using large quantities of glue; as the
four legs did not support the weight of the bear, we put five. We also
discovered that there is an optimal consistency for the glue.
Having reached this point, the
children tried to build the seats out of clay, by kneading it, making balls
and making the necessary pieces in long and thin shapes. Any child who could
not make the required shape would ask another for help, who then explained
how to do it, by flattening it, kneading it, rolling it between the palm of
the hand and the table, pressing it a little, to get a well made leg.
At this point, the children tried to name their movements (to
rotate, to press, to flatten, to roll, to beat), and the ways in which these
movements should be carried out: gently, strongly, slowly. In the same way as
when we looked for the names of the
parts of the seat, the experience and linguistic skills reinforced each other
in the search of the knowledge: searching, among the possible gestures, the
appropriate ones to give the desired form to that clay piece, and among all
the possible names, those that look most like the representation of what is
needed. If the partners understood, they improved the expressions and
definitions in their own way, but not always in correspondence with what
adults would do or say. But if the child who asked did not understand the
explanation, then the others quickly made them see how it was done, showing
them the appropriate and necessary gesture to give the desired form to the
matter that only in that form responded to the projects aims. (
) Obviously, the seats made with
clay had very different characteristics from those made with Bristol board,
and the resources invented by the children to try to make them work were also
Working with ones hands also confers
a certain sensitivity to matter, an experience of its potentialities that is
gradually being interioritzed. No description in words, no graphic
representation of the activity could substitute the manual sensitivity
acquired with the characteristics of plasticity, humidity, weight or
fragility of the clay. (
) The words serve later to
render explicit what experience and perception have made cognitively
accessible, to render personal realities communicable and socializable. Words
are also useful for providing evidence, at a level of deeper knowledge, of
the relationships between objects, for example causal relationships between
some particular gestures and the shapes that clay acquires. By means of
memory and the confrontation between successes and failures, the experience
gives form to a more and more abstract language that builds and renders
evident things that cannot be seen, that is to say, the relationships between
) But if we want to make a seat that is too big, we realize that
the clay "does not work well" that it bends or breaks. The
knowledge acquired in one context is no longer applicable to another,
different context, and the new attempts demonstrate its inefficiency. Then,
it is necessary to go deeper into the new experience, to find new
expressions, to construct (invent) new structures for seats, integrating what
seemed to have been definitively understood with the new aspects that, little
by little, are arising, with the new answers of the same material shaped in
And it was then that we tried to
build the seats with wire, bending it and twisting it until forming the
structure of the seat. And only just at this time was it possible to
realize the vast difference between a
clay seat and one made of wire, the two called, naturally, "seat".
) We can, therefore, now reflect on the relationship that
links, in a general sense, experience, language and knowledge: three
emblematic characterizations that can be read and interpreted, as if they
were transparent, through any one ''activity '' carried out with the
children. Each one of these three topics presupposes and implies the other
two: for this reason reciprocal bonds tie them inextricably. It is not
possible to structure didactically these elements in a hierarchical way, by
beginning to teach ''starting '' in the Language, in the experience, or maybe
in established knowledge. (
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